Listen Up

From Afropop to avant-pop and a "Thong Song" cover, our favorite new songs this week

Amber Mark: Thong Song (Sisqó Cover)

Sisqó’s 1999 campy hit “Thong Song” may be oft-disparaged, but it remains a masterstroke written by the then-19-year-old. NYC-based singer, songwriter and producer Amber Mark has just covered the track—and with relish. Mark (whose style pulls elements from countless genres, including R&B, dance, pop, bossa nova and beyond) says, “Yes, lol I covered ‘Thong Song.’ I HAD TO DO IT! I used to love this back in the day. So I figured how cool would it be to make a smooth house version of it. It originally started out as a little joke to myself and then I loved it too much not to put it out.” She has reworked the 20-year-old treasure into something just as extravagant, juicy and satisfying as any listener could hope for.

Sevdaliza: Habibi

With tinkling piano and delicate, digitized vocals, Sevdaliza’s stunning “Habibi” comes accompanied by a cinematic video by the artist (born Sevda Alizadeh) and Russian filmmaker Anastasia Konovalova. The dark and brooding song appears on Shabrang, the Iranian-Dutch singer-songwriter’s second full-length album—which she has described as a “journey of self-discovery, self-love and finding peace amongst all of the chaos in the world.”

Aquilo: Moving On

English duo Aquilo (Tom Higham and Ben Fletcher) releases a visual treatment for “Moving On,” a floating tune from their Sober EP. Filmed using a SnorriCam rig, the video tells the story of a night out that ends with the main character waking, bloodied, in a public park the next morning. “The whole concept of this EP is the four stages of a break-up, with ‘Moving On’ being the last,” Higham and Fletcher explain in a statement, “so it made sense to have this dramatic accompaniment to tie it all off.”

The Avalanches feat. The International Space Orchestra: Wherever You Go

A live rendition recorded remotely, “Wherever You Go” by The Avalanches features CLYPSO and The International Space Orchestra, who emphasize the intergalactic aura of the single. Some 40 members of ISO (who are also scientists, astronauts and engineers from the SETI Institute and NASA) perform alongside the other musicians—who all don custom uniforms, many appearing in front of DIY space-themed backdrops. This extended rework of the song has been tweaked to include bubble-blowing, strums on an euphonium, the delicate twinkles of a harp and more.

Nnabu: My Word

Sublimely blending Afropop and R&B, Nnabu achieves sheer romance with his new song, “My Word.” Since his first release six years ago, the artist’s musical stylings have evolved, he tells The Fader, who premiered the tune: “I have broad influences, and I turned away from Afrobeats at first but then my sound just started expanding. I grew up in the Bronx, so I grew up on Hip Hop, R&B, and that storytelling element, but I’ve finally become comfortable just embracing both sides.” Along with “It Got Bad” (which came out last month), this short but sweet ode is expected to appear on Nnabu’s upcoming album Modern Age, which is slated for later this year.

The Neighbourhood: Devil’s Advocate

Californian indie band The Neighbourhood ushers in a new era with their newest single, “Devil’s Advocate.” Fusing frontman Jesse Rutherford’s persona Chip Chrome with the band’s brooding blend of pop and indie rock, they will release Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones on 25 September. “Devil’s Advocate” follows the beach-y “Cherry Flavoured,” but darkens the mood. Rutherford’s lyrics reference the unsteady relationships he’s maintained with bandmates and poses heady questions about his spirituality.

Listen Up is published every Sunday and rounds up the new music we found throughout the week. Hear the year so far on our Spotify channel.